U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared a national emergency to prohibit U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment manufactured by companies allegedly attempting to spy on the U.S., which could restrict business with Chinese firms like Huawei.
The president expressed his decision in an executive order, which is directed against the “foreign adversaries” of the United States, but does not specifically name China. The executive order does not automatically impose restrictions on the purchase of telecommunications equipment, but gives Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross 150 days to establish which companies should be subject to new limitations because they pose a danger to U.S. security.
Specifically, Trump expressed in the executive order concern about the possibility that foreign companies might use their access to U.S. companies to steal data or sabotage services essential to the functioning of the country, such as the transportation network. Trump proclaimed the order invoking a 1977 law that gives the president authority to regulate the country’s commerce in response to a “national emergency. In this regard, the president argued that the interference of firms from rival countries in U.S. telecommunications is a “national emergency”.
In a statement, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump’s decision seeks to “protect U.S. information and communications technology and services”. The president,” he said, “has made it clear that this administration will do whatever is necessary to keep the United States safe and prosperous, and to protect the United States from foreign adversaries who are actively and increasingly exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology infrastructure and services”.
Actually, Trump’s executive order sharpens the battle for control of 5G networks. The United States is leading a global campaign to prevent Chinese companies like Huawei from taking control of 5G networks, which make it possible to surf the Internet much faster and could facilitate the development of autonomous vehicles and techniques for remote-controlled surgery. In fact, the US government has pressured the European Union to impose restrictions on Huawei, which is at the forefront of the development of 5G technology. Washington fears that China will use Huawei’s 5G networks for espionage, accusations that the Chinese company has categorically denied.